UWK World Championships 2015

The long awaited, first 'United World Karate' World Championships took place in Koper, Slovenia, from Thursday 15th -Sunday 18th October.

The concept of uniting 'all' karate; General, Traditional and Contact World Bodies under one umbrella is hugely aspirational and ambitious, and certainly hasn't been a smooth road, so to actually achieve staging a championships, where World Bodies from three disciplines came together in the spirit of unity was a huge step forward and a triumph for UWK president Richard Jorgensen.

Unified squads from Forty-three nations attended, with more than 1200 entries spread over the three disciplines. 
A very promising first event!

There may be some confusion between the terms 'General', 'Traditional' and 'Contact'.

We, in Karate Wales usually compete in what would be termed General Karate.  Both WUKF and the IKU, the international bodies we are also affiliated to, run 'General' karate events. 
As a matter of interest; both WUKF and IKU were among the seven founding World Bodies of UWK, unfortunately, IKU are no longer involved, a huge pity for the competitors.

General karate is also termed 'sport Karate' but as all three disciplines are competitive, that's an erroneous term.

Traditional Karate could (perhaps simplistically) be labelled 'old school'. 
This discipline is run the way Karate competitions were originally run.

This appeals to 'traditionalists' who want to compete in this type of event.

The scoring is a big difference, with Kumite fought for one point only (Ippon) all referees and judges wearing karategi with Hakima over their bottoms.


Kata performance receive points (as in General Karate) and also comments on a sheet.
The judges all seem to be high ranking and knowledgeable instructors, which is a refreshing 'blast from the past'.

There are also added events, one being a two person choreographed fight demonstration and another a single Kata with aspects of all styles present within.
Intriguing stuff.

The 'Contact' Karate is simply 'knockdown' for adults with a 'knockdown' earning half a point and a 'knockout' earning a full point and win!

However it's not (quite) as brutal as it sounds, as punches to the head and face are disallowed as is grabbing before striking.
Cadets are padded up, both head and body, however the adults wear no protection (apart from gum shields) and it is obvious that physical conditioning is of paramount importance.

The UWK event ran from Tuesday to Sunday, with Tuesday and Wednesday devoted to registrations and various meetings. 

The competition ran from Thursday to Sunday

Three days of eliminations and one day of finals.

Karate Wales entered only four competitors in this event.
Lee Costa and Mike Humphries in the 'Contact' Veterans Kata category, Leah Copeland in Open and Shotokan Kata and -60Kg and Open Kumite, and Luke Howard in Men's -75Kg and Open Kumite.

Rob Copeland coached the general competitors and Board members Lee Costa and Paul Watson attended the congress as well as supporting the squad.

Lee, chief Instructor of Wales Kyokushinkai, and his student and assistant instructor Mike Humphries both entered the Veteran D (51 years and over) Kata category and demonstrated fine kata on their way to a gold medal for Lee and a silver for Mike. 

It may also prove to be a landmark in  Kyokushinkai karate in Wales as the prospect of three-discipline events, with all respecting and supporting each other may appeal to more 'contact' clubs to think about joining Karate Wales.

Leah Copeland, Karate Wales' best female Kata competitor is improving all the time but narrowly failed to reach the top six in her Shotokan and Open events.

In Kumite she close to the top girls and only unlucky draws prevented her from progressing further than she did.

In the first round of the Ladies Openweight event she faced Alexandra Pop of Romania, who had earlier reached the final of the Ladies lightweight category!

Against a very fast, skillful and aggressive opponent Leah demonstrated her improvement by securing a close 3-2 win.

Leah beat the Englishwoman Danielle Dunne 7-4 in her second round before coming up against WUKF's top fighter, Romania's Magdalena Teir in the 3rd round.
Magdeleina  later went on to win gold medals in both the -65Kg and Openweight and her strength and experience proved too much for Leah, though Leah gave her a good match, going down 6-2. 

Fresh from his IKU World title, Luke Howard had huge challenges ahead of him in the large -75Kg category, with quality throughout!

After a bye in the first round he came up against Bonazza of Italy, who had earlier beaten Alexandru of Romania.

Luke started in sparkling form, sending a warning to his rivals, that he was after the gold, beating Bonazzu 6-0! 

Corman of Belgium was his next challenge and proved a tricky opponent, building a 4-1 lead before Luke figured a way to win, triumphing 6-4.

That win put Luke in the semi where he met Gomes of Brazil.
A technical and edgy match saw Luke edge a close but confident 3-1 win. 

Unfortunately Luke picked up a knock to his foot and a jarred knee, which prompted his withdrawal from the 'Openweight' event which was due to begin soon after, in order to avoid further injury and jeopardise his chances in the final.

Saturday was a rest day for our squad before Lee and Mike secured their medals on Sunday, with their best Kata's of the week and Luke meeting Vlad Iorga of Romania.

Iorga is rated WUKF's top fighter, being current WUKF World Champion.

This was possibly Luke's toughest challenge to date.

Luke  scored the first point, but then the match swung in the Romanian's favour as Jorga built a 4-1 lead.

Luke then gradually and calmly pulled the points back, to bring the match to 4-4. 
Jorga scored again to come within one point of the title, only for Luke to level the match 5-5!

A flurry of action followed, with Luke's superior speed being decisive, giving him the UWK World title by the narrowest of margins after the tightest of matches, 6-5.

Two golds and a silver placed Wales 12th on the medal table out of 43 Nations and was a great outcome at the competition which may herald a dramatic change in the Worlds Karate landscape.

Karate Wales will continue to explore every avenue in order to give our members the best possible opportunities to fulfil their potential, and make karate an important and fulfilling part of their life!




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